Click here for The Cricket Statistician Article by Michael Pulford. This was written for the quarterly journal of the ‘Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians’, Spring 2016 edition.
The earliest settlers are thought to have been Anglo-Saxon farmers who arrived between 500 and 600AD. They would have found the ridge covered in bushes, with the lower slopes stretching down to the river densely wooded. The southerly aspect was sunny and well drained and water was available from the neaby springs. The sandstone here is covered with clay deposited by the melting glaciers at the end of the last Ice-Age which after clearance would give fertile land for crops.
The Anglo-Saxons in the late 7th century cleared the forests up from the Wharf giving rise to other settlements often ending in TON so we have Weeton, Rigton, Arthington.
The village is mentioned in the Doomsday Book, and was still a forest in 1082 and a royal hunting ground. The monks of Fountains Abbey were gifted half of the Manor of North Rigton in 1255 but it reverted to the Crown after the dissolution of the Monasteries and was later gifted to the Fairfax family. They sold to Robert Wilkes, whose grand-daugther in turn sold to the Earl of Harewood in 1796.
A manor house stood at the eastern end of the village near where Hall Green arm stands today, the moat can still be seen in the field behind the primary school. The enclosure map of 1779 shows that the village was linear in shpae alongside a road formerly known as Chapel Hill and now Rigton Hill, the road divided at the top of the hill, the existing green area was a “pound” a cattle enclosure for stray stock and this is the original site of the village stocks.
The Harewood estate sold most of the farms and properties still in its ownership in 1951.
Today the village has changed a lot. There are no longer any thatched properties and many of the old buildings have been demolished and replaced by more modern ones or converted and enlarged.
Few villagers continue to work in farming with most now working in nearby towns or cities. In spite of the increase in size the village has lost some of its services; the Chapel has closed, as has the shop/post office. The bus service through the village has also been lost as most residents have cars and do their shopping in supermarkets in the towns.
The old stocks still sit on the village green opposite the Public House – where they now provisde a setting for photographs for visitors and solutions to clues in treasure hunts! as there is not much call for there intended use these days.